Return to Transcripts main page

CNN TONIGHT

President Trump Set To Sign Sweeping Tax Cut Bill; GOP Establishment Versus Steve Bannon; U.N. Condemn President Trump Decision To Recognize Jerusalem As Israel's Capital; Steve Bannon Influence Diminishing. Aired 11-Midnight ET

Aired December 21, 2017 - 23:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[23:00:41] DON LEMON, CNN TONIGHT NEWS SHOW HOST: This is CNN tonight I'm Don Lemon it is 11:00 p.m. on the east coast we're live with new developments tonight, big day for President Trump tomorrow, he is going to sign the sweeping tax cut bill a big victory for him on the heels of embarrassing defeat of Roy Moore in Alabama just ten days ago now the president needs to decide who he is going to be with him in the New Year. Will be Republicans who passed the tax bill clearly on President's side or Steve Bannon who has the President's trust, but pushed his support behind Trump's candidacy. Mr. Trump as we know did not like to lose.

Also tonight a CNN rebuke of the Trump administration by the international community, United Nations voting to condemn President Trump decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital. U.S. Ambassador hitting back.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NIKKI HALEY, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: We will remember when so many countries come calling on us as they so often do to pay even more and use our influence to their benefit.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: More on the battle at the U.N. later, it has been a big week for the president. I want to bring in now CNN contributor Jason Kander, excuse me, Joshua Green national correspondent for Bloomberg Business and the author of Devils bargain and CNN political commentator Alice Stewart. I hope I could make it through this hour, I have the worst cold. How are you guys doing?

JOSHUA GREEN, AUTHOR DEVIL'S BARGAIN: Merry Christmas Don.

LEMON: Thanks very much. Josh I am going to start with you. President Trump and Republican are celebrating the first major legislative victory on tax reform and you say the establishment is up and Steve Bannon is down talk about that, Josh.

GREEN: If you look at the last couple weeks, Mitch McConnell has finally pushed through a major legislative achievement and shrewdly gave a lot of credit to President Trump. This is the sort of thing that will raise Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell and then you have Alabama propping up Roy Moore's candidacy and helped to convince the President to endorse Roy Moore and they were humiliated when Moore was beaten by a Democrat. Trump's isn't somebody with a lot of fixed principles he is he is loyal to his advisors he tends to side with whoever is winning. Right now Mitch McConnell is winning and so if stands moving forward Trump will be more inclined to listen to him.

LEMON: Yeah. Jason, a new report from Vanity fair says Steve Bannon has told people he is grown disillusioned for Donald Trump's governing style, he blames Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner for pushing the president to make bad decisions saying he has lost a step like an 11- year-old child what do you think of this?

JASON KANDER, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: That is giving him a lot of credit I wouldn't have gone to nine. We're talking as if all these Republicans are not going to just end with Steve Bannon here's what will work. President Trump is going to get himself say something he shouldn't say and then call Steve Bannon and see what he should do whatever Steve Bannon tells him to do, because Steve Bannon's going to flatter him, he is going to do it and then in congress people like Mitch McConnell are going to act like they're against Steve Bannon because he is crazy and he is a white supremacist, we are not for that, but then they're going to get freaked out about losing primaries so they will end up being with Steve Bannon anyway. Everybody in the picture especially congress will be swept out of Washington following Steve Bannon and you will have Democratic coming in beginning of 2019 that is when something will finally get done for the American people.

LEMON: Jason, why do you say the President Trump will follow whoever he talks to last. How does that work out so far?

KANDER: That is how it works whoever is in his ear that is who he goes with. Particularly if they said something nice about him. I did the dishes tonight he is probably watching if I give him credit for it maybe he will never hate tweet me I don't know. That is how he works. They create briefing documents with his name in it so he will pay attention to what's going on in North Korea so they had complete control of the government for almost a year and all they have done is pass a tax bill that the majority the country doesn't like, they passed because they felt they had to pass a bill not for the American people. I think it's loosing for the country, it is unfortunate for all of us.

[23:05:19] LEMON: Alice Stewart. Go ahead Alice.

ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: To Jason's point the majority of people in this country don't like anything that goes on in Washington so no surprise they're not all excited about this tax reform plan because they doesn't know what it means for them yet. I do believe it will mean money in their pockets.

KANDER: They don't believe lawmakers.

STEWART: Exactly but I do believe what this is going to mean we've said the facts before the average American family this will mean about $2,000 for them by the end of the year and that is a lot of money for many families. Once they start seeing the benefits of this will start coming around. I think the Democrats need to be careful trying to push this as something really bad and everyone doesn't like it because once this starts paying off for the American people they're going to have a tough time come the mid-term elections. What the President has learned was yes he and Bannon are going to be close allies but also learned that he needs to work with the quote establishment GOP. If he wants to get things done and they have learned doing things the Bannon way sticking heels in and everyone holding ground doesn't always work, it didn't work with health care, but working across the aisle and everyone giving and compromising is how you get things done.

LEMON: Ok I have another question for. Any of the Democrats want to respond to what Alice said?

KANDER: Sure about the taxes, sure. Here's the thing Don, you have to use up any trust that the American people had in you so badly to get to the point you can't actually sell a tax cut and the reason they can't sell a tax cut, because it's not the American people don't know what's in it's because the American people do know what's in it and they say we see what you're trying to do, to throw a little bit our way and give a massive amount to the richest people in the country. That is what is happening. The American people see right through then the entire thing. That is why it is as unpopular as it is and I don't think that is going to change.

STEWART: Democrats had such a great job selling Obamacare they lost hundreds of seats once it came to effect so they're not the high ground when it comes to speaking truth in Washington, D.C. I think let this play out and let the people see how this benefits them and let's talk at the end of 2018.

KANDER: Alice, a minute ago you said the people didn't know what's in it but once they found out they will like it but you turn it around and compare what I'm saying to Obamacare my point is, one minute the Republicans are claiming that, that is a terrible way to defend Obamacare the next minute they're saying that is what is going to happen on the tax cut. The American people see through this not because Donald Trump is unpopular or Republicans in congress are unpopular they see right through it, because giving massive tax cuts to rich people and nowhere near the rest of the country has never been popular. A really popular President in congress couldn't pull that off either because it's a bad idea, or people don't like it.

LEMON: Josh you can get in here.

GREEN: I think they're both right. Right now public opinion polls show by in large American people side with Jason on this. They believe 60 percent, 70 percent of them is a giveaway to the very rich and corporations. I think Alice also has a point if this bill turns out to be as good for middle class families as said then maybe public opinion will change. I will add most independent analysis suggest most effects go to the wealthy and we're probably not going to see a pronounced effect for middle class voters so going forward if Republicans can't change the story around this bill, change the public perception and convince people it really is for the middle class than Bannon and Mitch McConnell and Trump will have big problem next year. LEMON: Everyone stay with me. Up next. President Trump praising his

daughter and key advisor for her work on the tax cut bill, but Ivanka Trump appears fuzzy about some critical language in the legislation, we are going to take a look when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[23:13:30] LEMON: President Trump set to sign the tax cut bill tomorrow it is his first major legislative achievement. Back with me Jason Kander, Joshua Green and Alice Stewart. Yesterday President Trump thanked Ivanka Trump on her work about the tax bill, today Ivanka said something about the tax bill that didn't make a lot of sense.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

IVANKA TRUMP, DONALD TRUMP'S DAUGHTER: I am really looking forward to travel in April when people realize the effects of this on the process of filling out their taxes. The vast majority will be doing so on a single post card.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: So Alice, people may start to feel the effects of the tax cut in their pay checks next year, but when they file their tax returns in April it is for 2017 taxes and it won't be effected by tax reform a simple fact to screw up as a senior advisor.

STEWART: I've been on a round table with Ivanka on this very issue and she is extremely are knowledgeable, she knows the details of what this tax reform package just specifically in regard to the child tax care credit and was instrumental in this. She was referring it to this will be the last time to do it the old way a reminder why it will be so much better in 2018 I take her at her word that is what she was referring to. But look don't be mistaken she is very well spoken and understands what the tax reform package is all about.

LEMON: Jason she said it's like being on a post card that is not exactly true is it.

[23:15:00] KANDER: It is going to be a real big post card. I'm not going to criticize Ivanka Trump over this, because honestly I highly doubt that her dad really understands all that very well. The President of the United States doesn't have understanding beyond I won something in congress finally and he probably knows about the part that affects him and save him a lot of money which would make him one of the only people in the country that knows about that because he won't release his taxes in the long run I'm not going to go after her for knowing what the President probably doesn't know.

LEMON: Jason you said tax reform when it takes effect will make the blue wave in 2018 even bigger. How so?

KANDER: Look I'm not sure, you talking to me? I don't think that was me, but I will talk about it.

LEMON: Josh, did you say that.

KANDER: No. I thought it was Jason who said that.

GREEN: No but look I'll save Jason and take the baton. If rank and file voters wake up to the fact most tax benefits aren't going to them if they get their paychecks and aren't larger will increase voter antipathy between Trump and Republican we are seeing it across Virginia, New Jersey and Alabama there's a lot of anger there's stories tonight in New York Times, The Washington Post and Politico, they are on the way in about Republicans in the White House and the RNC waking up with an alarmed to the fact that a lot of voters especially women, their support are plummeting. Yes I think this will lead to a blue wave unless Republican can somehow deliver benefits to middle class people who are getting turnoff on Trump and the Republicans. Again I don't think there's a ton of evidence in the bill they're going to. I don't think Ivanka Trump going out there and delivering misinformation about tax reform is going to help that effort.

LEMON: Jason I'm told it was you. You probably don't remember.

KANDER: It sounds like me. Here's why it's the case. The reason it's the case is because it is not a matter of people waking up to this, folks are wide awake, they see what's going on and recognize President Trump and other folks, Republicans in congress they can call this tax reform as often as they want, but people know it's not reforming anything. It's giving a massive tax cut to the wealthiest people in the country as a payoff to their donors who helped them get elected that is why now they're turning around and starting to talk about Medicare and social security and going after that because they know they spent a bunch of money of tax dollars sending a vast majority of it to the richest people in the country and they got to pay for that somehow and will try to did that by making the disabled and elderly pay for it. The American people think it's a bad idea and I agree with them.

LEMON: Alice go ahead.

STEWART: Those on the left are just so obsessed with what this means with regard to reducing the corporate tax rate down to rate uncomfortable and what other develop nations and that is the way it should had been for quite some time. If they would stop obsessing and really focus on who will benefit from this is the middle income Americans and the benefits it will mean for them, I think that is where the focus needs to be. At same time if this doesn't pan out or work like I hope it will, yes this is going to be very devastating to the GOP come midterm elections and will be a tremendous impact and something that the Democrats will certainly capitalize on, but I think it will be good and productive.

LEMON: Let me ask you this Alice. You say, President Trump will be anchored to any candidate he hits, if he hits the trail in 2018, explain that.

STEWART: His approval rating right now is in the low 30s. That is not something that any person running for office really wants to campaign along with. And especially with this tax reform package if it's not good and President's approval rating continues to stays where it is, that is not something you want to campaign on. In my view I think the President is best served to go and raise money with the RNC, do private fundraisers, work with donors behind the scenes and let the candidates go out there and push their message and work with within their districts to get elected and let this tax reform package help to boost and provide the wind in the sails for Republican as for running in the midterm election. However we all know the President loves the roar of the adoring crowd in his rallies and he really does want to get out there. If the poll numbers increase get out the more the merrier, but as it stands right now not something candidates need with them when trying to make their case with voters.

[23:20:09] LEMON: Jason I want to talk to you about the narrowly avoided government shutdown. This last minute deal seems to be a skinny measure, for all the debate that went in to the government only funded until January 19th, just a couple weeks away, it includes a short-term extension to the surveillance program and a shirt term extension to fund the children's health insurance. Are you happy with this scale down proposal?

KANDER: No and I don't think the American people are happy with this massive drama, because the Republicans won't actually do the things they should be doing, won't look out for dreamers, the idea we will put off taking care of kids and making sure they have health insurance until the last second like it's a term paper it's embarrassing. It's fascinating to me that President Trump and the Republican really seem to think that they will blame the Party that doesn't control any branch of government from this happening. They ask for total control of government. I think his words, I alone can fix it, it was like put me in there, I am going to fix everything and they prove to be completely incompetent and think they will get away with blaming someone else for it, but they've been doing it all year. American people won't give them the benefit of the doubt on that, they shouldn't.

LEMON: Thank you very much. When we come back the United Nation voting overwhelmingly to condemn President Trump decision to recognized Jerusalem as a capital if Israel. Plus Ambassador Nikki Haley sending out a friendship invitation, more on who is getting it and why.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[23:25:54] LEMON: An international rebuke of the Trump's administration, United Nations voting overwhelmingly to condemn President Trump decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital. I want to talk about this now with CNN diplomatic correspondent Michelle Kosinski, and global affairs analyst Kimberly Dozier. Good evening to both of you. Michelle, so here's a screen shot of the U.N.'s G.A. final vote 128 countries voted in favor of the resolution. 35 countries abstained. Only 9 countries voted against it. These are very dramatic results other than Israel our biggest ally, either voted against the U.S. or didn't vote at all. Are you surprised by today's events? MICHELLE KOSINSKI, SENIOR DIPLOMATIC CORRESPONDENT: It is a stunning

rebuke, I remember it started on Monday in the U.N. Security Council when the U.S. stood absolutely alone on this. Now today they did get some more support. I mean there were people that voted against this that we weren't sure they would. There were more abstentions than we thought we would see. There were rumblings that Canada and Australia would abstain although those countries that abstained will not move their embassies to Jerusalem. So the U.S. was not completely alone here, they did have some support even if just in the form of abstention, it is a big deal. When you think about it there was another vote in the U.N. not very long ago rebuking the U.S. for still having an embargo on Cuba that vote was even bigger that was the U.S. and Israel alone and 191 countries against. But it didn't get the attention this did. That is because this is Israel and Jerusalem and a stunning change and also because of all of the rhetoric we've been hearing coming from the U.S. including language that sounded kind of threatening and then turned into a threat, a threat of removing funding from the U.N. and from countries that don't go along.

LEMON: Kim, does this say anything about our allies and how other countries view the President or the U.S., are we losing our credibility?

KIMBERLY DOZIER, GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST, CNN: Well one of the things this is doing making countries that had stood with us make a choice based on principle in front of their own people and in some cases some have chosen to vote against the United States despite the threat of losing funding, that could force them into the influence of Russia, China, would-be super powers that are trying to vie with the United States for global influence. The other thing it could do, if the U.S. has made these threats and they don't follow through than we are, as we've been accused of being a paper tiger who makes threats, but doesn't make good on them. The problem is the U.S. is going to be facing some situations like in the next six months perhaps a North Korea that truly does have a ballistic missile that they can put a nuclear weapon that reaches the United States where the U.S. will need consensus with the united nations and have squandered a lot of that good will with this vote today.

LEMON: And Michelle shortly before the U.N. vote today, the U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley delivered a speech to members of the U.N. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HALEY: The United States will remember this day for which it was singled out for attack in the General Assembly for the very act of exercising our right as a sovereign nation. We will remember it when we are called upon to once again make the world's largest contribution to the United Nations and we will remember when so many countries come calling on us as they so often do, to pay even more and to use our influence for their benefit.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: So as we know President Trump made some of the threats yesterday implying that he would withdraw aid from countries that voted against United States, is it appropriate for the President and U.N. Ambassador Haley to issue threats like this or is this exactly what President Trump's base wants to hear.

KOSINSKI: It's not surprising considering the rhetoric we've been hearing, and the attempt to Trump's original budget to try to cut foreign aid dramatically, to try to cut funding to the U.N. by up to 50 percent was one of the goals, but you see aid dramatically, to try to cut funding to the U.N. by up to 50 percent was one of the goals, but you see not much desire in congress to do anything of that sort and when they pass spending bills and congress is controlled by Republicans you want to keep that funding at Obama era levels and in many cases for some of the categories raise that funding even higher.

There's plenty of criticism out there, this is not the time to be making threats like this because as Kim alluded it to there's a lot going on in the world, major humanitarian crisis, the U.N. needs those resources and also the U.S. needs in a lot of the major problems it has been facing and will face around the world. Is it realistic this is going to happen? Many we talk to say no. When you look at how much the U.S. does pays for the U.N. The U.S. alone pays for more than 20 percent of the U.N.'s total budget. The U.S. alone pays for nearly a third of all U.N. peacekeeping many see that as absolutely necessary and good for U.S. national security, but I think it is realistic down the road some of that will get cut back.

DON LEMON, CNN TONIGHT NEWS SHOW HOST: Kimberly former CIA Director John Brenan tweeted this out today, the Trump administration threat to retaliate against nations that exercise sovereign right in U.N. to opposed U.S. position on Jerusalem is beyond outrageous. It shows that Donald Trump expects loyalty from everyone, qualities usually found in autocrats. Those are strong words, what's your reaction?

KIMBERLY DOZIER, GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST, CNN: That was had is second tweet on twitter. He is new to twitter today. What the former Director is saying reflects a lot of intelligence officer's opinions on how this President is messaging the wider world. What they're worried about is that it is going to play into anti-American narratives, whether it's a Russian narrative about the U.S. or extremist that is trying to get followers to a militant group saying they are bullies and don't want to listen to the rest of the world. It's their way or the highway and they worry it will ultimately damage not just U.S. securities in terms of feeding terrorists groups but it also makes it harder for allies to work with us. You see a number of Arab leaders have cancelled meetings with the Vice President and had to call off a whole leg of his Middle East tours. A number of Christian leaders, even the head of Egypt's University cancelled meetings with him, that is a signal that these countries that the U.S will need as it goes forward to fight extremism are going to find it hard to make some of the hard decisions to work with Washington.

LEMON: Michelle we are reporting that Nikki Haley issued an invitation for the six countries who voted no or didn't showed up on the U.N. Jerusalem resolution. What do you think of this?

KOSINSKI: Party time. I think maybe the dress code should be no regrets or you're in the right club. Or you know, make them jealous or some dress code make them wish you were with us. It's interesting in fact the source at the U.N. who sent us this invitation also added think of this as just a first symbolic step the United States taking note who supports us and who doesn't. So starting out with a Party thanking the people who either voted against or abstained or didn't vote at all a little reception to be held on January 3rd, welcoming those people and thanking them as she put it for friendship. Kind of interesting. They're seeing this as they put it symbolic first step.

LEMON: Thank you both I appreciate it. When we come back an incredible story about one adopted family two babies and race in America, you don't want to miss this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[23:38:33] LEMON: Ok what you doing at home? You need to sit down and watch this story. Two babies up for adoption, placed with the same family, one black, one white, one given up, one raised to adulthood by their white parents their separate lives and their meeting as adults is at the heart of an extraordinary story about race in America. CNN Kyung Lah track down all of the details, here's the report.

(BEGIN VIDEO)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was a bad day for me.

KYUNG LAH, SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN: A searing decision that ripped through the Sandburg family. Steven Sandburg was just eight adopted by loving parents with his brother in the suburb of Chicago, Deerfield his parents wanted to adopt again, a baby girl in 1962 she arrived at their home. Lynn Sandburg is the father.

Do you remember the first moment you saw this little girl.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

LAH: What did you think?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Absolutely dumb founded didn't know what to think. The baby was black.

LAH: What happened after the shock? The initial shock faded? For you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This isn't going to happen. You have to know what was going on in the -- in our town at the time.

LAH: The civil rights movement rolled the country still deeply segregated and in the all-white suburb pledging to bring black family to a subdivision leading to a cross burning near the Sandburg home. And all the neighborhood attention. Later would March with Martin Luther King Jr. from Selma to Montgomery and she now gazed at the African-American baby she named Rebecca they called her Becky.

[23:40:16] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She wanted to keep the baby there was never a question. These were not the right timings to bring a black child into that atmosphere. I felt that I had to make a tough decision and that is, the decision I made. It was heart-wrenching. It really was. Remember sitting on the step, my mom. Took away got my baby sister. And she had gone. I didn't know why. I didn't talk to anybody about it. It was not something that I wanted to bring up. Ever.

LAH: Why?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because it hurt.

LAH: A few months later the Sandburg's adopted this girl, Amy. They eventually divorced but the decision they made about their first daughter haunted Marge she wrote about the girl for years in her diary. These words more potent, the loss of Rebecca I will never forget if there is a god she was in a good and loving home. She was adopted by a black family in Chicago grew up in that loving home Marge imagine. Amy grew up to by a journalist. The women lives converging when Amy tracked down and found Angel just two years ago leading to this meeting.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was relieved when she told me about her what happened to her and her upbringing and thanked me actually.

LAH: She thanked you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. For doing what I did. She felt it would have been a bad thing for her to have been brought up in that neighborhood.

LAH: Do you feel better about what happened?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I feel better but I still would have rather have had my sister.

LAH: Kyung Lah CNN La Jolla, California.

(END VIDEO)

LEMON: Wow when we come back we're going to talk to Amy and Angelle, there they are, don't go anywhere.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[23:46:20] LEMON: All right you guys are still watching? There's two heroes in the story of Amy Roost and Angelle Smith and they both joining me now, there they are, how you guys doing I've been waiting to speak to you.

AMY ROOST, ADOPTED BY WHITE FAMILY: Hi.

ANGELLE SMITH, REJECTED BY WHITE FAMILY: Great happy holidays.

LEMON: Happy holidays, Merry Christmas so Angelle do you guys consider each other sisters.

SMITH: Yeah actually we do we're soul sisters.

LEMON: Why is that?

SMITH: Because she feels as if I -- if it weren't for me being who I am she wouldn't have will the life she had. So we're connected by the spirit.

LEMON: Did you ever feel Amy like there was something out there missing, tugging at your heart that said I got to figure this out?

ROOST: Yeah I mean, I think every adoptee feels that way just from having been abandoned at birth, but also once I knew about my parent's child before me in the back of my head there was always a voice saying I need to find that person.

LEMON: Yeah. How did you find out?

ROOST: I was about nine years old and my brothers were playing football in the backyard and I came out, I was a tomboy, I was wearing a football Jersey and one of my brothers said, you know, girls doesn't wear football jerseys, why don't you dress like a real girl like our other sister. I could just tell by the way our other brother looked at him something untake-backable had been said and I ran inside and asked my mom and she said to me listen carefully because I'm only going to tell you this story once and she only told me the story once.

LEMON: So the story again to remind viewers that the family wanted to adopt a child when the baby was arrived the baby was black and they weren't expecting a black baby they lived in an all-white neighborhood and sent the baby back and eventually got Amy so in 2012 after Treyvon Martin and the divisiveness in thing about race in the country, that motivated you to figure this out and to try find Angelle.

ROOST: Yeah I started watching the daily news, stories about police misconduct how blacks were being treated in our criminal justice system and I started getting angry honestly, it wasn't like I didn't know that these things were happening, but it just became so prevalent and then Sandra Blaine was I think the straw for me. Because I linked it to Rebecca in my head, a woman. And I wanted to know as my mother wondered in her diary whether or not Angelle was ok.

LEMON: Yeah. Rebecca is the name your family original gave Angelle you thought it was Rebecca then.

But angel you were adopt bid a black family after Amy's family sent you back, tell me about your upbringing it was a comfortable, loving family? You lived near each other right?

SMITH: Well I grew up in Chicago.

LEMON: Ok.

SMITH: I went to school in Hyde Park. Amy was in Deerfield so we weren't close together, but I went to school in Hyde Park and we had a really good upbringing. My parents were business owners. We had a summer home in union pier, Michigan and I had a very diverse lifestyle.

[23:50:06] The people in my school where all nationalities and my parents really loved me and I was raised by an entire community of aunts and uncles, but nobody blood. So my understanding of family, you know, it from the very beginning was much deeper than blood.

LEMON: And then, after that, as you became an adult, you fell on some hard times, right? You had some trouble.

SMITH: I did. I did.

LEMON: But you pulled yourself back together and became reacquainted with your children?

SMITH: Absolutely.

LEMON: Do you think race had anything to do that or just growing up --

SMITH: Just growing up living in America. I think this story has no color. The face of it could be anyone, especially my hardships. I like to think it has nothing to do with race, however I'm a little smarter than that, and I do understand his decision was about race but my life has not been racially motivated, shall I say.

LEMON: Amy, you grew up in a wealthy white family, grew up with the nice things, went to good schools you also had problems as well. Are the stereo typical ideas of upbringings of race not what they've seem?

ROOST: It challenges all of our assumptions about white privilege and black hard ship. I didn't have it entirely easy growing up as a child. It wasn't a horrible childhood but it was at times difficult, not just because of the divorce, but because of some other unfortunate things that happened during my childhood. And honestly, I told Angelle this, I'm happy she didn't go through what I had to go through.

LEMON: A couple years ago, Angelle, you met Amy's dad, the man that didn't want to adopt you and sent you back. You thanked him and told him it was the right thing. Why did you think it was the right thing for a white family to do back then?

SMITH: Because of the life I ended up living I know I'm exactly where I'm supposed to be. I always felt wanted within the family. Amy was speaking of adoptees feeling a sense of abandonment, and I never felt that. I always felt a sense of love. I was always surrounded by love. So I think that has a lot to do with it.

LEMON: The two of you have thought a lot about race and how it can lead you on different paths in your life. What have each of you learned from each other? First from Amy?

ROOST: As I said we're quick to make assumptions. I think it's in our society we're so polarized not just by race but my politics, religion. And I think if we were to stop and take the time to do the hard work, it's easy to look at things in black and white, pardon the pun, and it's so easy. But it's so difficult to stop and look at the nuances and look at the things we have in common as opposed to the things that are different about us. I've really evolved through this whole process myself and I consider myself a progressive and somebody that is very open minded and through this process I discovered I have a lot of growing yet to do and I'm thankful for having lived through this, and continue to live through this.

LEMON: Angelle?

SMITH: What I've learned from this is the oneness. That we're all one. I never knew the Sandburg's existed until two years ago. And when I met Amy or when Amy found me first, I was totally overwhelmed that someone would come looking for me, because I had been looking for -- you know, in my self-discovery I had been looking for a link to my own family, still am. So I've always felt just a great joy for Amy. And I've learned that, you know, just stay open. Stay open. You never know what life is going to bring you, but it's always going to be something good.

LEMON: What a good note to end on. Thank you both. I have to say, Amy wrote and co-produced a pod cast about this, the snap judgment pod cast. You can check it out and search it. Thank you both so much. Merry Christmas to you.

SMITH: Thank you, don. Merry Christmas.

ROOST: Merry Christmas to you, Don.

[23:55:00] LEMON: We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: In this season of giving, we want to show you how you can help our 2017 top ten CNN heroes continue their important work and have their donations matched dollar for dollar. Here's Anderson Cooper.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON COOPER, BREAKING NEWS SHOW HOST: I am Anderson Cooper. Each of this year's top ten CNN heroes proves that one person really can make a difference. This year we're making it easy for you to support their great work. Just go to CNNheroes.com and click donate beneath any 2017 top 10 CNN hero to make a direct contribution to their hero's fund-raiser. You'll receive an e-mail confirming your donation, which is tax deductible in the United States. No matter the amount, you can make a big difference helping our heroes continue their life changing work. And right now, through January 7, your donations will be matched dollar for dollar up to a total of $50,000 for each this year's honorary. CNN in proud to offer you a simply way to support each cause and celebrate all this everyday people changing the world.